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Can You Really Force Someone To Go To Rehab?

If you have a friend or family member who simply cannot stop abusing drugs or alcohol, you might be wondering, as so many people do, can you force someone to go to rehab – even if they don’t want to go? 

It’s no secret that addiction is a devastating illness. It’s known to end careers, tear families apart, and ravage the lives of the afflicted individuals. For many, getting professional help is the difference between life and death. It’s no wonder that loved one’s of addicts desperately try to convince their addicted loved ones to get help. 

Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to go to rehab. Sometimes, addicts are in denial that they have a problem. In other cases, people simply don’t want help or don’t believe they are worthy of help. It’s these circumstances that make many families question whether or not they can force someone to go seek treatment for addiction. Ultimately, it depends on the person’s age, the state you live in, and a variety of other factors. 

Making Children Get Help for Substance Abuse

When many people think of drug and alcohol addiction – they think of young or older adults. However, adolescents and teenagers are susceptible to substance abuse and addiction as well. In instances of adolescent substance abuse, it’s crucial to find help sooner rather than later. After all, identifying and addressing behavioral problems at an early age can prevent them from getting worse or becoming semi-permanent in adulthood. 

Furthermore, as a parent, if you have a child who is under the age of 18 you can force them to go to rehab against their will. However, if your child isn’t dedicated to their treatment and doesn’t care to get sober, the treatment may be ineffective, making for more severe problems down the line. 

While forcing a child to go to treatment is fairly easy, as soon as a person turns 18, it becomes a lot more difficult. Plus, with an increase in young adults becoming addicted to opioids and benzodiazepines, many parents are desperately trying to convince their young adult children to check into an addiction treatment center. 

family trying to force someone to go to rehab

States Where You Can Force Someone to go to Rehab

Once a person is over 18, whether or not you can check them into rehab involuntarily depends heavily on which state you live in. For example, there are 37 states, including Ohio, that have laws in place allowing for the involuntary admission to mental health treatment facilities. Although this sounds like good news for people who want to force someone to go to rehab, each state has specific laws and guidelines that a person has to meet before you can commit them to a treatment facility. Most of these laws are taken through civil court or allow family members to petition for their loved one to seek treatment. The process can take two weeks or longer.

For example, Ohio uses Casey’s Law to help families find involuntary addiction treatment for their loved ones. This law was passed in 2012 but requires families to pay 50% of the treatment costs before the process even begins. As a result, many people don’t go through with the process due to the hefty price tag.

Moreover, there are other guidelines that these laws typically require people to meet before they can force someone to go to substance abuse treatment, including:

  • Proof that the person you are trying to send to rehab has a problem with drugs or alcohol.
  • Proof that the person has or has threatened harm upon themselves or others.
  • The afflicted individual’s addiction is so severe that he or she cannot provide basic needs and there is no other adult that is willing and able to do so.

Each state has different specific qualifications and some are harder to meet than others, so it’s important to seek legal counsel before you attempt to gather this information and begin pursuing involuntary rehab.

What Happens When Someone is Involuntary Committed to Inpatient Treatment?

Depending on the state you live in, what happens after someone is forced to go to rehab varies. In most states, people remain at an inpatient treatment center for about two weeks. After this time period is up, the clinical staff will determine whether or not further care is needed. In many cases, patients are released back to their homes and are asked to participate in outpatient treatment. In some states, individuals who don’t comply with outpatient rehab are readmitted to the original inpatient facility. 

Under Casey’s Law, people who are committed to involuntary drug and alcohol addiction treatment will stay in treatment as long as their clinician deems fit. In addition, people who are court-ordered to rehab in Ohio will be found contempt of court and may face charges or readmission to the rehab center.

While one of the main factors that contribute to treatment success is the motivation and dedication a person has to his or her recovery, some studies suggest that involuntary commitment to outpatient treatment facilities can result in as much as 57% fewer treatment admissions in the future and an average of 20 fewer days in a hospital compared to people who received no behavioral treatments. So, if you’re wondering whether or not forced addiction treatment works – know that forcing someone to go to rehab can help and it’s better than no treatment at all.

I Can’t Force My Loved One to go to Rehab: What Now?

Whether you live in a state that doesn’t have an involuntary substance abuse treatment commitment law or you don’t meet the criteria to make your loved one go to rehab, it’s important that you don’t give up. After all, there are other ways you can help convince someone to get help. 

If your loved one isn’t willing to seek treatment, you might consider staging an intervention. Professional interventionists can help you stage an intervention, express your concerns to your loved one, and ultimately convince someone who was once unwilling to get help to recognize his or her need for substance abuse treatment. Interventions are highly effective processes that try to strike an emotional chord with an addicted loved one in order to make them receptive to accepting help. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, contact our experts at Ohio Addiction Recovery Center today. We can help guide you through the process of accepting help, healing in treatment, and maintaining life-long sobriety.

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